31st July, 2015
Some of you have noticed that the links to the photographs of the 2011 Tassili expedition were broken. Apologies, this is now fixed, the slideshow functionality is working poroperly.
22nd July, 2015
Taking advantage of some slower days (and plenty of time spent on aeroplanes) I have managed to complete the account of our June Brandberg expedition in a single burst of effort.
The January Tibesti Expedition account is also in the works, but I need to ask for patience as the processing of the nearly 10 thousand photos takes forever. I promise I will have at least a first instalment ready in a few weeks.
6th May, 2015
The planned expeditions section giving details on the planned 2015-2016 trips had been updated. I have enough expressed interest for all the planned trips (except the 2016 Brandberg expeditions) to have a Confirmed status. In summary, the following expeditions are in the works, click on links for details:
18th April, 2015
Finally I have completed the last part (Wadi Djerat) of the November Tassili n'Ajjer expedition account.
Another trip is planned to the Tassili this coming autumn, principally to visit remoter areas not covered by earlier expeditions.
21st March, 2015
Apologies for the lack of site updates recently, we have moved to Delhi a month ago and are still in the process of settling in, with all the chores of relocating to another continent taking up a fair share of my time. So far everything meets or exceeds expectations, we look forward to a very enlightening and enjoyable stay in India.
The January-February Tibesti Expediton was cmpleted successfully, we have managed to see practically everything on our planned itinerary, but it was a long and very tough expedition lasting 23 days. I will start the trip account as soon as I can complete the last part (Wadi Djerat) of the November Tassili n'Ajjer expedition account.
I will also make a status update on the planned 2015 and 2016 expeditions soon. The news from Jebel Uweinat are cautiously encouraging, the Noveber Uweinat expedition from Sudan will go ahead if present conditions prevail, our move to India will have no bearing on our future desert plans.
The recent slide of the Euro against the Pound/Dollar permitted a significant reduction in the UK and US/worldwide prices for the Operation SALAM book, to £34 and $55 respectively (both including shipping costs).
Click here to order.
23rd December, 2014
22nd December, 2014
Our life is taking a major twist as Magdi has agreed to take up an exciting offer in India, we are moving with the family to Delhi at the end of February. All this plus preparations for the upcoming Tibesti Expediton left me with very litte time available for site updates. I did manage to complete the account of the first couple of days of the November Tassili n'Ajjer expedition, I hope to have more updates coming during the Holidays..
12th October, 2014
I have completed the slide-show for the 2010 November expedition to Jebel Arkenu & Jebel Uweinat (from Libya).
The flora and fauna pages were updated with the animal and plant species seen during the 2010 November Libya expedition. The large brown mason wasp species, also seen on previous trips, was identified as Delta dimidiatipenne.
28th September, 2014
In the winter of 1942 the South African Air Force 15th Squadron, equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV. aircraft, was deployed to Egypt to strengthen the Allied Desert Air Force. In April a detached flight of three Blenheims with their support staff were ordered to Kufra to provide air cover for the Oasis. One of the support personnel was mechanic Gerald James Mostert, whose Photo Album, Diary, Notebook and some other documents describing the events in Egypt and Kufra I have managed to acquire on eBay a few years ago. Over teh past weeks I have completed is the full transcript of the diary describing events in detail for the period 19 January to 15 November 1942, including the crossing of the Libyan Desert with one of the SDF Kufra Convoys and the subsequent tragic loss of the three Blenheims and the subsequent search. The diary is supplemented with 200 photographs taken in Kufra, Mariyut Aerodrome at Alexandria and elsewhere.
7th September, 2014
Over the week-end I have completed the slide-show for the 2013 March expedition to Jebel Uweinat (from Sudan). I have also fixed the bug in the slideshow program which caused the starting image to load before the selected photo if looking at individual pictures (not really noticeable on a fast internet connection, but rather annoying if using a slower one).
The flora and fauna pages were updated with the animal and plant species seen during the 2013 March Sudan expedition, including a new species of dragonfly (Anax ephippiger and a shrub never before encountered in the Libyan Desert, Capparis decidua)
4th September, 2014
We have successfuly completed our July expedition to the Upper Brandberg rock art sites in Namibia, the trip account is now finished.
We are planning to return in June 2015, with one fully helicopter supported expedition, to be followed by a trekking expedition, both along the lines of previous similar trips.
10th July, 2014
12th June, 2014
Announcing a camel supported trekking expedition to the Estern Tibesti (Chad) for February 2014
Following the success of thes year's Tibesti expedition, I have been sitting over books, maps and articles (plus Google Earth), planning a more ambitious follow-up expedition. This time our target will be the amazing rock art sites in the Ouri depression (Korossom, Karnasahi, Fofoda, etc.), which are very little known but are among the most important prehistoric paintings of the Sahara. As the area is inaccessible with vehicles due to all approaches from the east being heavily mined, we will use camels to access the area from the fathest point reachable with cars from the west. The planned itinerary will involve 4 days driving with cars both ways, and a 12 day trek in-between, walking about 180 kilometres while the camels carry our gear, supplies and reserve water.
As I will be unable to do two trips back-to-back in the spring (and the situation in general does not appear to get any better in South Libya anyway), the planned Uweinat trip from Sudan is further postponed to November 2015, subject to the improvement of the situation in and around Kufra.
7th June, 2014
I have created the slideshow for the 2012 Tassili n'Ajjer trip account. The slideshow program was updated to allow speed adjustment before pressing the play/resume buttons (default s set to 5 seconds). It is reccommended to set speed at least 2-3 seconds faster than the time needed to load an image (depends on speed of internet connection).
26th May, 2014
The Tibesti trip account is now complete. I have also added a short bibliography to the end if anyone is interested in further reading.
5th May, 2014
After a careful analysis of the news seeping out from southern Algeria, and an assessment of the overall situation, the itinerary of the October Tassili N'Ajjer Expedition was revised and updated to reflect what is considered to be secure and feasible at present. The plans to visit the Tassili du Tamrit area (adjacent to Djanet, bordering the Ghat region in Libya) were dropped, and our trip will focus on the Tajdelahine plateau and Wadi Djerat in the Northern Tassili. Much of the two week itinerary wil be based on our October 2012 expedition.
1st May, 2014
AARS meeting, Bergamo, 29-31 May 2014
22nd April, 2014
New slideshow functionality on the site
After some experimenting and a few false starts I have managed to create a basic but fully functional Javacript program to display a number of photos in succession, with both an automatic stepping function (2.5 seconds), and manual stepping (both backwards and forwards). This has now been incorporated into the Tibesti trip account, with thumbnails launching the large images in the slideshow in a new window from their appropriate place in the sequence. There is no need to close the slideshow window if wishing to jump to a new image, by going back to the trip account and clicking on a new thumbnail image, the slideshow will reload with the new image displayed. While playing with this took a couple of days, over the long week-end I also had time to add a couple of days to the trip account.
Once the Tibesti account is complete, I plan to implement the slideshow functionality gradually to earlier trip accounts, time permitting.
30th March, 2014
The dates for the Brandberg trekking expedition are now firmly set for 11-22 July. Also the itinerary is updated with much firmer plans: we will make a diagonal trek accross the central Brandberg from Circus Gorge to the Orabes crest, and descend via the Basswald-rinne (Sesaub gorge) over a ten day itinerary (plus a day before/after to get to/from Uis). We have one remaining place available, if interested in joinig please email me for details.
I have also managed to do some udates to the Tibesti trip account, more in the works.
Based on the success of the Tibesti expedition, another Chad trip is planned for the winter of 2015, will be announcing details as soon as I have confirmation from Pointe Afrique on the status of the Faya flights.
4th March, 2014
We have returned a couple of weeks ago after an amazing three weeks in the Tibesti Mountains, Chad. Visiting this most remote and mysterious of all Saharan regions had been a dream of mine for over 20 years, ever since I started to seriously read about the deep interior of the great desert. War and rebellion has kept visitors away for the best of the past 40 years, but amazingly there is now an opportunity to visit this region which at present is the calmest and most secure area of the Sahara. I have put up a sample of photos in an album on the FJ Expeditions Facebook page, and a full trip account is in the works.
On a less positive note, the planned March expedition to Jebel Uweinat had to be cancelled due to the deteriorating security situation in the area, a spillover of the general instability in South Libya. The trip is tentatively postponed to November 2015, subject to the improvement of the situation in and around Kufra.
16th January, 2014
80 years ago...
On the 16th January 1934 a detachment of RAF 45 (Bomber) Squadron flying two Fairey IIIF aircraft commanded by Flying Officer A.H. Marsack, supported by a detachment of 212 (Bomber and transport) Squadron with four Vickers Victoria aircraft, established a camp at the mouth of Karkur Murr, occupying the wells there in response to Italian territorial claims having been made on parts of the North-Western province of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The RAF occupation was to last until the No.1. Motor Machine Battery of the Sudan Defence Force, commanded by Bimbashi F.G.B. Arkwright could reach Uweinat from the Nile and take over the occupation.
I have updated The occupation of Merga and Oweinat page with extracts from the RAF report on their activities by Flying Officer A.H. Marsack, illustrated with some original photographs taken during the operation, accompanying the report.
5th January, 2014
Some new reading for 2014...
In late November I have received a rather unexpected blast from the past, with Chris McKay (one of the leading life scientists working on the NASA Mars rover programmes) sending me a paper just completed by him and Martina Marinova on some observations made during our October 2005 expedition. (Margarita M. Marinova, A. Nele Meckler, Christopher P. McKay, Holocene freshwater carbonate structures in the hyper-arid Gebel Uweinat region of the Sahara Desert (Southwestern Egypt), Journal of African Earth Sciences 89 (2014)). I have updated the trip account with some photos and more background information, and a link to the pdf article.
Another superb publication appeared in late 2013, which was very long overdue. In Libyan Sands Ralph Bagnold wrote in 1935:
"...in 1916 a tiny force of Light Car Patrols ... covered great distances of unknown waterless and lifeless country as a normal routine, ...they succeeded in mapping, with the aid of speedometer readings and compass bearings , a great part of the northern desert, with its ranges of sand dunes, between the Nile and Siwa. Thir exploits, with the crude vehicles they had, were astonishing... As far as I can trace, no one has ever written up the history of the of the Light Car Patrols. It is a pity, for there was nothing like them before..."
It took nearly 80 years from the time these words were written, and almost a hundred since the events themselves, that this remarkable story (commemorated by place names like "Australia pass" which we regularly use on our way south from Dakhla to Uweinat) is told in its entirety. The book by Russel McGuirk is in a large part a first hand account of the events by Captain Claud H. Wlliams, the commanding officer of No. 5. Light Car Patrol, which have resided forgotten and unappreciated in the archives of the Royal Geographical Society among the W.B.K. Shaw papers. The book provides the historical context to the Memoirs of Williams, and is supplemented with an amazing array of original photographs from the Wiliams family archives. It is an absolute must read for anyone interested in the history of exploration of the Libyan Desert (available at most major UK and international booksellers).
24th December, 2013
14th December, 2013
As a somewhat belated attempt at keeping up with times (I know, my daughters will say: Dad, that's SO yesterday...) I have launched the FJ Expeditions FaceBook page, where I will post all website updates. If you wish to receive FB notifications of any news and updates, just click on the like button below.
24th October, 2013
17th October, 2013
Rock Art of the Jebel Uweinat
Francis van Noten
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, Graz, 1978
A few weeks ago I have managed to obtain a true rarity: a pristine copy of the 1978 book by Francis van Noten (the archaeologist of the 1968 Belgian Scientific Expedition), Rock Art of the Jebel Uweinat. This title is extremely scarce, especially in such perfect condition, the last one I have seen was on the market over 10 years ago. COPY NOW SOLD
4th October, 2013
I have been rather busy lately with other things, finally this week had time to complete a number of updates:
Most importantly the Tibesti Expediton (Chad), long in the planning, is going ahead with a small re-schedule to January/February to take advantage of the direct charter flights to be operated by Point Afrique from Marseille to Faya. These flights cut off 4 days each way from the travel time needed to reach the northern areas of Chad, allowing for a much more rewarding programme. Even thus, after some careful research it became evident that it is impossible to squeeze both the Tibesti and the Ennedi into a single trip, thus this one will focus on the Tibesti, with a follow-up planned to the Ennedi next year if all things go well. There is now a firm itinerary, and the dates have been fixed. We still have a few places available, if interested please enquire for details, application deadline is 1st November.
The March expedition to Jebel Uweinat from Sudan is now rapidly filling up, if you are contemplating joining this trip please let me know soon.
I have finally completed the account of the first Brandberg expedition of this past June, and have started work on the second one.
Another bit of good news is that the The Cave of Beasts book is now printed and it has shipped to everyone who placed a pre-order. As the book is very heavy, it was shipped with the lowest economy rates, which might mean several weeks for overseas addresses. I have also obtained a few copies of L’UNIVERSO 4/2012 (see below post), available for order while stocks last.
8th August, 2013
Special Issue: MISSIONE MARCHESI
by Michele Soffiantini
With contributions by
Prof. Borchi and Prof. Macii,
Alessandro Menardi Noguera, Paolo Carmignoto and András Zboray
Istituto Geografico Militare, Firenze
Text in Italian
The 160-page 4/2012 special issue of L’Universo, the geographical/historical publication of the Istituto Geografico Militare since 1920, is now available, wholly dedicated to the story of the 1933 Marchesi mission to Libya.
The exciting historical reconstruction by Michele Soffiantini ranges from the practical issues of the geotopographical expedition led by Capt. Oreste Marchesi to an in-depth analysis of the reasons behind the execution of the expedition to the southernmost end of Cyrenaica beyond the Kufra oasis, to the cartographical aspects of the survey and to the interesting study of the topographical instrumentation employed during the mission, carried out by the topmost experts on the subject, Prof. Borchi and Prof. Macii.
The last part contains the narration of the recent story of the ascent to the mountain, named after the IGM topographer, Cima Marchesi, clearly pointed out in the original map drawn to 1:100,000 scale by the topographical team during the 1933 expeditionary survey to the Uweinat massif in the southeastern corner of Libya, where a plaque in his memory was placed during the exploration which took place within the Emeri Project in November 2010.
Alessandro Menardi Noguera, Paolo Carmignoto and András Zboray have contributed to this publication. The published material will enable the reader to immerse onesef in the exciting atmosphere of one of the last great Saharan explorations, made by the IGM topographers Oreste Marchesi, Pietro Veratti, Giuseppe Tschon e Federico Giova.
I fave a few extra copies available for order while stocks last (price depending on destination)
5th August, 2013
We have successfuly completed our two expeditions to the Upper Brandberg rock art sites in Namibia in June, have started work on the first trip account, to be completed as time permits in the next couple of weeks. Substantially the same itineraries are planned for in June 2014, one fully helicopter supported expedition, to be followed by a trekking expedition
I have also finally managed to finish the account of the March expedition to Jebel Uweinat. Based on its success, a repetition is planned for March 2014.
Due to a lack of enough participants this year's Tassili expediton is cancelled, it is tentatively re-planned for October 2014, the exact itinerares subject to the overall situation in southern Algeria.
25th July, 2013
Read (and hear) more about Ray's past exploits at the British Library Voices of Science website.
12th April, 2013
WADI SURA –
THE CAVE OF BEASTS
A rock art site in the Gilf Kebir (SW Egypt)
In collaboration with
Franziska Bartz, Erik Büttner, Frank Darius,
Frank Förster, Sabine Krause, Hans Leisen,
Heiko Riemer, Jürgen Seidel and András Zboray
AFRICA PRAEHISTORICA 26, Köln 2013
513 pp, 445 full colour pages, numerous coloured figures, tables and maps
size 24 x 34 cm, hardcover and half linen-bound, 3 folded plates
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
To order please continue to the book page
|70 years after the discovery of the famous “Cave of Swimmers” in the heart of the Libyan Desert by the “English Patient” László Almásy, only 10 km further west along the edge of the Gilf Kebir plateau, Massimo and Jacopo Foggini detected another painted shelter which – with its exceedingly rich and complex imagery – clearly surpasses all comparable rock art sites in Egypt, if not in the entire Sahara. About 8000 single figures, among them numerous hybrid creatures that inspired its name, “The Cave of Beasts”, offer unique insights into daily life and spirituality of a so far unknown past cultural world of about 8000 years ago and certainly range this shelter among the most important prehistoric sites of the continent. In order to make this extraordinary cultural heritage broadly accessible for scientific studies as well as for the larger public, an interdisciplinary research project was launched in 2009, financed by the German Research Council (DFG), which aims at a comprehensive documentation of the rock art as well as at its placement in the archaeological context of the surrounding landscape. In summer 2013, the first of three planned volumes will be published, presenting on 220 double pages the complete picture trove of Wadi Sura II in scale 1:2, based on high resolution digital photography and straightened by 3D laser scanning. The volume will be supplemented by 13 articles dealing with the context of the pictures and their archaeological setting.|
6th April, 2013
We have returned recently from a smooth and hassle free expedition to Jebel Uweinat from Sudan, all things went well completing a very pleasant and successful trip, the first time such logistice were tried out from Sudan. A trip account is now in progress, will be completing it as time permits.
I have also updated the Kufra Convoys page with much new information gathered on more recent expeditions, also adding a series of historic photographs of G.J. Mostert (April 1942) and Frank Brooke (September 1941).
3rd February, 2013
"A revision of the identified prehistoric rock art styles of the central Libyan Desert (Eastern Sahara) and their relative chronology"
has now been published in HUYGE, Dirk (ed.), Proceedings of the International Colloquium “The Signs of Which Times? Chronological and Palaeoenvironmental Issues in the Rock Art of Northern Africa”, Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, Bruxelles, 2012.
It may be downloaded as a pdf file.
I have also finally completed the account of our October Tassili N'Ajjer expedition.
30th January, 2013
László Almásy’s most daring Mission in the Desert War
Kuno Gross, Michael Rolke & András Zboray
To order please continue to the book page
15 May 1942: The previous day in the dunes of the Great Sand Sea the operation had nearly met catastrophe at the
outset. Almásy completely revised the plan and plotted a new route during the night. One of his vehicles was unserviceable,
another damaged, and two men of his group were seriously ill. All were completely exhausted. He determined to
send the two men back to base in the damaged truck, and to continue the operation by the new route. There might be
enough fuel and water to reach the Nile, but not to return – and there were the desert patrols of the enemy!
30 December 2008: A definitive account of Operation Salam was long overdue. After some correspondence, the three authors decided to write this book, as a monument to Almásy‘s achievement. A patient three year research in archives and through personal correspondence uncovered much hitherto unknown information and details, enabling the authors to review, correct and where necessary to refute many of the stories, rumors and legends surrounding Almásy and his activities.
This is the story of one of the most daring secret operations of the Desert Campaign in the Second World War. A mission far behind the enemy lines, thousands of kilometers through the most arid corner of the Sahara desert, in order to deliver two German spies into the very heart of British-held Egypt. The German High Command did not count on success – but they did not reckon with Almásy’s resolve, endurance, experience, and luck.
This book provides full details of this operation based on all known accounts, including MI5 files and the intercepted secret W/T messages deciphered at Bletchley Park. Supplementing a nearly complete set of original photographs made during the operation, photos of the authors taken when they retraced the route provide a vivid impression of the dramatic landscapes Operation Salam had to cross to reach its target – and to return.
This book is dedicated as a monument to László Ede Almásy, sportsman, aviator, and one of the greatest desert explorers of the 20th century.
23rd December, 2012
1st December, 2012
Note of the 1930 Bagnold Expedition found !
Have received the following message from my good friend Mahmoud Marei:
In the article "Journeys in the Libyan Desert 1929 and 1930" (The Geographical Journal, July 1931) Bagnold wrote about their failure in 1930 to cross the Great Sand Sea. At their furthest point westwards they left a message in a bottle at Camp 6. On page 23 he wrote "We camped on a wide whaleback in the same open wavy country. A note giving the position (lat. 26 28 30, long. 26 12 23) was left in a bottle in a cairn of petrol tins weighted with sand." Checking the map supplementing the article, Camp 6 had quite different coordinates, roughly lat. 26 38 30, long. 26 12 23 (Note: this map was alteady proven to be very accurate, when using the plotted location we have found Bagnold's Stone Circle on our March 2001 expedition). I became excited... and decided last year to check both locations to try to identify the actual campsite... Only a week before setting out and upon discussing the matter with my desert enthusiast cousin Mohamed Fayez Marai, he informed me not to bother as another tour found the message only few months before. I managed to get a copy of this unique message, unfortunately am not really sure who has it...
28th November, 2012
The planned expeditions section giving details on the planned 2013 trips had been updated. In brief: the Tibesti & Ennedi trip to Chad will be postponed at least till the autumn, as I have received conflicting reports on the viability of the trip (however we do have the required minimum number of people who expressed interest). The expedition to Jebel Uweinat from Sudan will go ahead in March, I will be sending out a detailed email to all who expresed interest in the coming weeks. A new expediion is announced to the Tassili N'Ajjer in October. The planned helicopter supported and trekking exeditions to the Upper Brandberg in Namibia will proceed as planned in June.
NOTE: The rule dating back to September 2010 mandating a 'security' escort still applies in Egypt, requiring all desert trips to be accompanied by one or two vehicles filled with four policemen and a driver - naturally for an exorbitant price - in addition to the already expensive and useless army officer. This is a blatant rip-off (giving a new meaning to "protection money"), not to mention the hassle factor, I am not willing to endorse this in any way, as long as this practice is in place I will not organise any trips to the Gilf Kebir or Jebel Uweinat originatng from Egypt.
18th November, 2012
We have recently returned from our Tassili N'Ajjer expedition, while things did not quite go as planned, we had a very enjoyable and successful trip, an account is in the works.
I did manage to complete the account of our June Upper Brandberg trekking expedition.
10th August, 2012
The account of our helicopter supported trip in May and early June to the Upper Brandberg (Namibia) is now complete.
20th July, 2012
Finally had the time for some website updates following a lengthy period immersed in other projects. We had two superb trips to the Brandberg in Namibia, a fully helicopter supported trip in May and early June, immediately followed by a nine day trekking expedition to the southern parts of the mountain. The detailed trip accounts of both are in the works, hopefuly to be ready within a couple of weeks.
I have also updated the planned expeditions section:
24th December, 2011
22nd December, 2011
New book on the Sahara:
18th December, 2011
Have managed to complete the account of our October trip to the Tassili N'Ajjer. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience with surprisingly few hassles or complications, furter trips are planned on a regular basis
2nd December, 2011
I have updated the Books Available page with several recent acquisitions, including a copy of Almásy's extremely scarce "In Air... on Sand..." (1937) and several good copies of "Unknown Sahara" (1934), both of the MFTK series. In addition, I have two good copies of the 1993 paperback edition of Bagnold's Libyan Sands available for purchase.
8th September, 2011
With time to spare during the summer holidays, I have finally managed to complete the account of our Upper Brandberg expedition in Namibia. The forthcoming trip is planned for the same time next year (end of June, 2012).
The October Tassili trip is on (two places left for any last-minute applicants), however clearly the conditions in Lybia are not yet suitable for a visit, the planned survey of Arkenu & Western Uweinat is postponed for next autumn. I plan to visit Cairo in late autumn to sniff out whether the planned expedition to Uweinat from Egypt in March 2012 may go ahead.
An update to those of you who were following the Magyar Földrajzi Társaság Könyvtára (MFTK, Library of the Hungarian Geographical Society) series project, the page is now reasonably complete, possibly the results will be published in a book form as a definitive bibliography of the series.
20th July, 2011
We have returned a two weeks ago from our Upper Brandberg expedition in Namibia. We had a very succesful trip with most objectives accomplished, a trip account will be available in a couple of weeks.
Have uptated the plans for the forthcoming expeditions. The October Tassili trip is now confirmed, however the planned visit to Arkenu & Uweinat in November is very tentative due to the situation in Libya, we will make a final call early September. On the bright side, the news from Egypt are encouraging (supposedly no more police escort), so an expedition to Uweinat from Egypt in March 2012 looks likely to go ahead.
Over the past couple of months I have been engaged in a project that might interest the bibliophiles among you, tracing the fascinating history of the Magyar Földrajzi Társaság Könyvtára (MFTK, Library of the Hungarian Geographical Society) series, in which three of Almásy's books have been published. The pages are at the moment very much work in progress and incomplete, will be updating them periodically as time permits.
I have also updated the Historic Expeditions page with a reference to the 1964-65 Belgian Trans Sahara Expedition which passed by Uweinat in January 1965 (Information and photos courtesy Jean Stasse.)
23rd December, 2010
We have returned a few weeks ago from two almost back to back expeditions from the Libyan Desert.
The first one was organised from Egypt, changing from the pattern of previous expeditions this one focused on the rich WWII history of the area. We have retraced almost completely the Egyptian part of the route of Almásy's Operation salam, and visited most significant historical wrecks and places. Our tirp account is now online.
The second one, from which we just returned, was to continue the exploration of Western Uweinat, on the Libyan side. We have teamed up with Alessandro Menardi Noguera, Michele Soffiantini and Paolo Carmignoto, who have been leading the exploration of the western part of the mountain since 2005, and have completed a very successful expedition resulting in over 30 new rock art finds. A trip account will hopefully be completed in-between the holidays.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year !
17th July, 2010
Two weeks ago we have returned from our first expedition to the Upper Brandberg, a granite massif in Namibia having a remarkable similarity to Uweinat, and home to one of the richest rock painting assemblage in the world. We had a very tough but thoroughly enjoyable trip, while not everything went according to plans (not altogether unexpected on a recconnaissance trip), we have succeeded in visiting many of the principal and lesser sites on the upper areas of the mountain. The trip account is now online, and future expeditions are planned to the Brandberg on a regular basis.
The November Western Uweinat expedition is now fully booked, unfortunately I cannot accept any further applications. Given the considerable interest, if logistics work out well this time (have not been to the Libyan side of Uweinat since October 2003) a follow-on trip will be considered for autumn 2011.
I still have two places left for the October Almásy / LRDG expedition, if anyone is interested please hurry up, as the application deadline is at the end of this month, with the permits process in Egypt taking close to three months.
17th April, 2010
Have completed the trip account of our March 2010 expedition to Uweinat and the Gilf Kebir. I have also cleared some long outstanding debt by updating the fauna pages with our 2008-2010 observations.
In the first clip (June 1932), Géza Paikert (not Alajos Paikert, as indicated in the title caption), son of Alajos Paikert, the retired director of the Hungarian Agricultural Museum (who was then in Cairo establishing a similar institution in Dokki) describes the preparations for the Almásy - Clayton expedition. The footage shown as illustration appears to be of Prince Kemal el Din's Citroen half-tracks, with Almásy appearing in the last seconds (in white aviator hat). This would indicate that the footage was taken after the expedition returned, when Almásy was in negotiation for a further expedition with the Prince's backing.
The second clip (August 1932) is the most significant, as it shows actual footage from the 1932 Almásy - Clayton expedition, including the camp near Jebels Peter & Paul, the take-off of the Moth, the spring at Ain Dua (Uweinat) and a flight along the cliffs of the Gilf. The last scene of an oasis and camels illustrates the narrative of finding the lost oasis within the Gilf, obviously taken elsewhere. (This is the only remaining trace of a motion picture taken by one of the expedition participants, possibly Almásy himself as he does not appear anywhere, the original is sadly lost.)
The third clip (March 1933) is a short scene taken at Al Maza airfield in Cairo, where a pair of hungarian aviators, on a flight around the Mediterranean, say goodbye to Almásy, who was then preparing for his forthcoming expedition. This is followed by a short scene of Gerle 13 (the aircraft) flying over the pyramids.
21st December, 2009
Following an absence of a hear and a half, we returned to Uweinat in November 2009. Everything went smoothly to plan, we had a very pleasant and succesful trip, the trip account is now on-line.
9th September, 2009
Some months ago I have uncovered a treasure trove in the library of the Natural History Museum, London: the personal papers of L.J. Spencer, one time Keeper of Minerals. Spencer made an expedition with Patrick A. Clayton to the Libyan Desert Glass area, much of his correspondence relates to this journey. However in a thin folder labelled with Spencer's neat handwriting, there were a couple of papers related to the legendary Zerzura Club, with signed menu cards from the annual dinners containing the names of many of the great explorers of the Libyan Desert. This collection is the most complete to my knowledge on the Zerzura Club, founded by Bagnold and party in 1930, and it allowed me to put together a page on the Annual Zerzura Club Dinners. This is work in progress, subject to time available I will try to put together a biographical page on each of the members.
24th August, 2009
It had been a long pause since I have had time to update the website, it was a rather busy and eventful year in my professional life. Fortunately I have a bit more time now to re-focus on my desert activities, you will find a number of updates accrss the website that I've completed over the past couple of weeks, and more to follow as I have time:
12th June, 2008
After a long break I have finally managed to complete the project of translating all of Almásy's writings relevant to the Libyan Desert, including a corrected and annoted transcript of the Operation Salaam diary. A CD is available with the full text of these works, as well as some additions from other sources and articles, complete with all published original photos, and some of my own illustrating places mentioned in the text. The CD may be ordered on-line. Alternately the text of the individual books and the Salaam diary without any photos are available as PDF files that may also be ordered on-line.
15th May, 2008
With consent from the finders and the family, I have added a page on the lost personal belongings of Alexander (Alec) Ross, found near Wadi Sora in 2007. Alec was a signalman with the Royal Signals, and later served as a dispatch rider with the LRDG. Unfortunately nothing of historical significance was found, however the photos and letters offer a fascinating snapshot of 1941/42 from a very personal perspective.
I have recently acquired second copies of several very rare titles on the Libyan desert, including an 1935 first edition of Bagnold's Libyan Sands. These are available for sale together with some other items, may be ordered and paid for online through PayPal.
14th May, 2008
In February 2008 we were in Cairo with Magdi to prepare for the March trip. We had time to make a short visit to the northern Fayum, where this time we have been able to locate without any doubt the 1907 campsite of Walter Granger.
12th May, 2008
The long overdue site update is now complete, with an account of our March trip, and an updated expeditions programme for 2009 and 2010.
Note, that the next available trip for which applications are accepted is for the autumn of 2009, all expeditions till then are fully booked.
22nd August, 2007
I have finally completed the identification of the plant species seen during our October 2006 and March 2007 expeditions. I have revised many of the flora species pages, and added the observations of the remnant vegetation in Karkur Talh to the 2005 rains page, plus the description of the new growth associated with the small localised rains of 2006 in upper north western Karkur Talh. A detailed description of the remnant growth in Wadi Handal and the March 2007 observations of the remaining vegetation in Karkur Talh have also been added.
20th May, 2007
I have updated the fauna and flora species pages with our March trip observations.
6th May, 2007
This past March we organised a special trip to Jebel Uweinat and the Gilf Kebir, with most participants being members of ARARA (American Rock Art Research Association). The trip had a first, I have taken along a digital video camera to take video shots of most of the major sites we visited. Most of the nearly six hours' captured footage will be incopporated into the 2nd edition of the Rock Art of the Libyan Desert DVD, and some of it (in a reduced format) is used to illustrate our trip account.
4th February, 2007
I have started work on the identification of the plant species seen during our October 2006 expedition. I have revised several of the flora species pages, and the 2005 rains page, adding the new observations. This is still work in progress, expect more updates in the coming weeks.
14th January, 2007
During the holidays I have managed to complete the long overdue expeditions programme for 2007 and 2008. There will be an expedition October 2007 with the emphasis on Jebel Uweinat, with several days planned to explore the remaining unsurveyed parts of the mountain on foot. In March 2008 we will do the traditional "full circuit" itinerary covering Uweinat, the Gilf Kebir and the Great Sand Sea. Unfortunately the situation in Darfur shows no signs of improvement, for the time being the Northern Sudan trip is postponed indefinitely. In October 2008 we will do another Uweinat / Gilf expedition, the exact itinerary will be defined as we get closer to departure date.
This past october we did a private trip to Jebel Uweinat, primarily to explore. We have found several new sites, and finally managed to re-locate Winkler's long lost Site 75 in Karkur Murr. A trip account is now online. One very interesting aspect of the trip was to observe how the vegetation changed in the one year following the rains of 2005. The flora pages have not yet been updated with the new material, but the fauna pages have been updated with new observations and species.
I have received feedback that I have not been responding to emails. My profuse apologies, I am not trying to ignore you, it seems the email issues of the past have not been fully solved. Apparently I still don't receive some emails sent to @fjexpeditions.com addresses. This is probably due to the occasional misfiring of the automatic spamguard (unfortunately as these are public addresses visible on the web, I get around 200-300 spam emails per day), or the automatic forwarder. Even though I am rather tied down at the moment, I DO answer all emails, so if you find I do not respond, please re-send, and request a read-receipt.
A VERY HAPPY & PROSPEROUS 2007 TO ALL OF YOU !
18th September, 2006
Apologies for the lack of updates lately, it was a rather busy summer with much too little time for the desert. However I did manage to complete the identification of all the new plant species seen during our October 2005 expedition. This allowed the completion of the flora pages with the inclusion of many new species, and the fauna pages have also been extensively updated. There is a new page detailing the aftermath of the rains of 2005, including the observations of others who have visited the western side of Uweinat at the same time.
I am working on the planned expedition programme for 2007 and 2008, hope to have it finalised in the next week or so. There will definitely be an expedition to the Gilf Kebir - Jebel Uweinat in October 2007, and also in March 2008, as the situation in Sudan still does not look good. Will keep options open for a possible 2008 October date for the Sudan trip, if the picture improves.
28th June, 2006
While I was away for the past week, someone with lots of time and less sense hacked the site, and placed a Trojan Downloader script into the starting page. If you visited the website between 19th-24th June, and do not have automatic virus/spyware protection, then you may have some malicious code residing on your computer as a result ! Check with a good antivirus / anti-spyware program. Sorry about this, apologies for any inconvenience caused.
12th May, 2006
I have recently acquired second copies of several very rare titles on the Libyan desert, including an excellent copy of Almásy's 'Recentes explorations...'. These are available for sale together with some other items, may be ordered and paid for online through PayPal.
A short photo account of the Libya eclipse tour is now online.
15th December, 2005
With many other exciting but demanding events going on in my life (I have re-joined Malév Hungarian Airlines in February on the senior executive level), it took some time to be able to update the website:
6th August, 2005
|I will do a presentation on the Gilf / Uweinat rock art sites (including the recently discovered Wadi Wahesh ones) at the Origines conference, Toulouse on the 7th September. To attend, please contact the conference organisers.
30th July, 2005
In March an Italian party including Alessandro Menardi Noguera and Stefano Laberio Minozzi explored the Emeri highland, the elevated southern half of the granite part of Uweinat. They have re-discovered the forgotten fourth spring of Uweinat, Ain Duarmé (first seen by Monterin and Rolle in 1934), and have found a large number of new rock art sites. A preliminary report of their trip may be read here (in Italian), and a more detailed article appeared in Sahara 16.
Alessandro, reading up on the Monterin expeditions, has positively identified Umberto Monterin and Major Rolle on some of Arkwright's photographs.
We have also made a private trip to Uweinat in March in place of the cancelled Sudan expedition. On this trip we explored the upper reaches of the Wadi Wahesh, and found a number of spectacular new paintings in a totally new style. An article describing the sites appeared in Sahara 16, and a trip account will be placed online shortly.
15th July, 2005
|Rock Art of the Libyan Desert
NOW PUBLISHED !
The long wait is finally over ! The complete illustrated catalogue and bibliography of all known rock art sites in the Gilf Kebir - Jebel Uweinat area has been published on DVD on the 15th July. It may be ordered on-line. The DVD contains over 7500 photographs of more than 500 recorded sites.
28th January, 2005
Due to reports of rebel activity in the Wadi Howar / Bir Natrun areas, and the unclear security situation, the difficult decision was made to cancel the 2005 spring Sudan trip. However the plan is not abandoned, we shall closely monitor the situation, and re-schedule the trip as soon as the conditions permit (2006 ?).
12th January, 2005
The account of the November 2004 expedition is now complete and online.
18th December, 2004
With the two trips this autumn and preparing for the Sudan trip, I had little time for updates. Safely returned from the November trip, we made some spectacular new finds along the southern side of Jebel Uweinat. I hope to be able to complete the trip account during the holiday break.
I have managed to complete the account of the October 2004 expedition.
10th October, 2004
A three year-old quest is finally over ! Ever since we have found the note left by a Sudan Defence Force party in 2001 on the peak of Uweinat, I have been trying to trace the history of this climb and the associated events. I did find some years ago the SDF report on the 1934 occupation of Uweinat in the Public Records Office, which suggested it was F.G.B. Arkwright and party who made the climb. This was confirmed in 2002 by the peak log we found on the summit.
After many abortive leads I have managed to make contact with Philip Arkwright, son of F.G.B. Arkwright, who with the help of his brother Anthony, found a photo album with a couple of pages on the 1934 expedition - amazing material, including some photos of Almásy, the party on the peak, and much more. Anthony and Philip were amazingly kind, they have permitted these rare historic photos to be reproduced in their entirety on this website. The complete set of photographs, together with excerpts from the SDF Operations Diary, may be found on a new page on The Occupation of Merga & Oweinat, 1934.
18th September, 2004
There have been updates to the planned expeditions:
7th September, 2004
Nadia from Sahara-Nature helped me identify two species, the colony of unrecognised shrubs in the valley north of the Gilf in February 2003, and the small white flowers seen on the Hassanein Plateau. The flora and fauna pages were updated with the new information.
2nd September, 2004
|I will hold a presentation in München, Germany on the recently discovered rock art sites of the Gilf Kebir and Uweinat, hosted by the Kulturklub Munich (European Patent Office).
Time 7pm, Wednesday the 29th September.
Location: Room 102 at the EPO, Erhardstr. 27, 80337 München (Right opposite the main entrance of the Deutsches Museum. See here for map/directions.)
2nd September, 2004
Added two new books ("The secret life of Laszlo Almasy" by John Bierman and "A Traveler's Giude to the Geology of Egypt" by Bonnie M. Sampsell) to the bibliography section.
12th June, 2004
Annuouncing two new expeditions for 2005 and 2006, and some updates to the other planned trips:
7thth June, 2004
I will be doing a presentation on the recently discovered rock art sites of Uweinat and the Gilf at the University of East Anglia Sahara Conference in Norwich on the afternoon of the 23rd June (guests welcome at no cost). More details and full programe on the Conference website.
27th May, 2004
Did a little bit of housekeeping, made updates to several pages:
Sahara Volume 15 had been published recently, containing an article giving a description of the large shelter discovered on the Hassanein Plateau during our March 2004 expedition.
(Available through the Sahara Journal website.)
27thth April, 2004
Safely returned from the March trip, exciting new discoveries were made on the Hassanein Plateau near the 'white spot'. The trip account is now available.
I have finally managed to complete the long overdue account of the November 2003 expedition.
On this trip we have visited the most important discovery in recent times in the Libyan Desert, the amazing shelter found by Massimo Foggini & Ahmed Mistekawy in 2002 May. We have already visited this site in February 2003, however this was kept confidential at the wish of the discoverers. As the existance of the site is becoming common knowledge, I have prepared a brief overview in the Rock Art section.
30th January, 2004
The aircraft wreck at Bir Maaruf (initially thought to be an IMAM Ro.37bis) has now been positively identified as a Meridionali (IMAM) Ro.1, a Fokker C.V. built under license in Italy from 1927 to 1935. It was used as a multi-purpose military aircraft, Ro-1-s have probably taken part in the Kufra campaign (though there is no proof that this particular wreck dates from that time). From 1935 on they were gradually replaced by the bigger and stronger Ro-37, but many survived into the North African and Ethiopian campaigns of 1940-41.
(Image from www.enricopezzi.it)
The wrecked Ford (there is a clear logo on one of the components) chassis near Uweinat remains a mystery. So far we were unable to identify even the model. The strange angular hood component with triangular grilled vents seem not to fit any of the known pre-1945 Fords. The traces of beige paint suggests a WWII era military vehicle, possibly one of the SDF convoy trucks (one of the lesser used routes went Wadi Halfa-Selima-Uweinat-Kufra).
25th January, 2004
With the November trip, the holidays and my regular work commitments piling up, I have only now managed to complete and upload the October Libya trip account. (Account of the November trip is in the works...)
The March 2004 trip is now FULL. I have received an unexpected number of enquiries for this trip, so I have added another trip for November, 2004 to accomodate all those who applied but were unable to participate this March. The itinerary will be substantially the same, spending a couple of days at Wadi Sora, then a full week at Karkur Talh, visiting the known rock art sites, and looking for more...
The flora and fauna pages were updated with observations made in Libya in October. Also two of the three new plant species found during the February 2003 trip have been identified. Help is sought to identify two new plant species seen in Karkur Ibrahim.
13th November, 2003
Have safely returned from the Libya trip, we have found a number of new sites at Jebel Arkenu and in Karkur Ibrahim at Uweinat. Unfortunately we were prevented from visiting Jebel Sherif by the Libyan authorities (who have managed to be rather frustrating this time), so the mystery of what remains of Clayton's patrol cars still lingers.
I'm off for an unscheduled special two week trip to Uweinat from Egypt tonight, so the trip account and other updates will have to wait until my return. As I will be out of email range, cannot answer any emails/enquiries before 1st December.
31st August, 2003
Carlo Bergmann recently announced an excellent new website, providing for the first time some detail on his amazing discoveries along the "Abu Ballas trail", including detailed description of "Djedefre's Water Mountain" and exciting new finds in the same area. These discoveries are among the most important ever made in the Libyan Desert, and will require a complete rethinking of the early dynastic settlement of the oases, and offer new insight into the influence of the desert peoples in the formative years of the Egyptian civilisation. The site is mostly in german, but there is an excellent english summary, and the many photos have english captions.
Note: some of the conclusions presented on the site are open to debate, and there had been a sad rift between the German archaeological community in Egypt and Carlo Bergmann, the background of which I am not aware of. By posting this link, I acknowledge Carlo's discoveries, however I do by no means support or endorse any of the arguments and controversies from either side, in which I wish to remain impartial until I hear the details from both sides !
28th August, 2003
I have scanned some of the photos of my earliest travels, a trip to Kharga & Dakhla oases in 1980, and my first solo trip to northern Sudan in 1981.
Sahara Volume 14 had been published recently, containing an article giving detailed description of the most important rock art sites discovered during our October 2002 expedition.
(Available through the Sahara Journal website.)
Francis Duranthon, Curator of the Natural History Museum, Toulouse, sent me a lovely photo of a Dorcas gazelle, taken in Karkur Talh at 7pm on 30 April, 2002. Francis was a member of the French party that also made a number of important rock art discoveries. Many thanks for the lovely photo ! (Now on the Flora & fauna page)
1st July, 2003
Have prepared the tentative plans for the 2004 expeditions:
17th April, 2003
The flora and fauna pages were updated with several new species of plants seen during the February 2003 trip. Help is sought to identify three species seen in the Northern Gilf and Karkur Talh. Also additional photos were added on the addax skeleton discovered last October.
I have received many additional details and photos on the tragic 1942 May Kufra incident from Francois de Wet and Jim Howey, the SAAF Blenheims force landing site page had been updated to reflect this new information.
16th May, 2003
A paper long in preparation by Nicolas Manlius, with contributions from Alessandro Menardi-Noguera and myself, discussing recent observations of the near-extinct waddan (Barbary sheep, Ammotragus lervia) in the Libyan Desert has finally been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Zoology (read abstract here).
A detailed account of the most important rock art sites discovered during our October 2002 expedition is under preparation to appear in the forthcoming issue of Sahara.
The books section was updated with two new titles (Cairo to Siwa with Armoured Cars, LRDG Rhodesia) plus a couple of missing covers.
1st April, 2003
A full account of our latest trip is now complete, with photos of the discovered new sites and the mysterious "white blob".
14th March, 2003
Many thanks to Ahmed Badr for helping with the translation of the note found by Friedrich Brimmer & party at the Prince Kemal el Din monument. The translation confirms that it was indeed a note left by Almásy and companions in March, 1934.
10th March, 2003
A number of updates were long overdue. I have received much new information, links and photos from various individuals, which I promised to add to the website. Lack of time prevented this up till now, the following have been added today:
10th March, 2003
Back from a superb successful trip to the Gilf and Uweinat, plan to have an account of the trip up on the website in a few days on the Past Expeditions section. Highlights of the trip were the crossing of the Great Sand Sea from Siwa to the Silica Glass Area (surprisingly easy), exploration and new discoveries in the Wadi Sora region along the western Gilf Kebir, and an ascent of the Hassanein Plateau at Jebel Uweinat to explore the mysterious "white blob" (what is it ? wait for the account ;)). On the way up, we discovered over a dozen beautiful new rock art sites with paintings.
The FJ Expedition mail server experienced some problems while I was away. If you sent any messages to a fjexpeditions.com address between 20th February and 3rd March, it was lost (hopefully returning an error message). This problem is now fixed, but please repeat any messages sent in this period.
30th November, 2002
A number of corrections and smaller updates were made to several pages to reflect newly acquired information:
23rd November, 2002
Back from Uweinat and the Gilf with a number of spectacular discoveries. We have found over 60 new rock art sites in the unexplored parts of Karkur Talh and it's vicinities, and made a major discovery along the Western edge of the Gilf Kebir. A full trip account with photos has been completed and uploaded today. Also the Uweinat page in the Geography section has been updated with new knowledge gained on the mysterious "white blob" during our ascent of the peak.
14th October, 2002
The Spring 2003 expedition has been finalised, with dates 13rd February to 2nd March. The expedition is organised together with Dr Giancarlo Negro, we plan to thoroughly explore little visited and probably unsurveyed parts of the North-western Gilf Kebir, searching for new rock art sites. The 9 available places are all taken.
13th October, 2002
Most of the pages in the geography section have been completed. Also some updates and many corrections were made in the Bibliography section, including the addition of a new LRDG book by Brendan O'Carroll to the books list.
Klaus Stübiger from Germany sent me a copy of a very interesting article from the After the Battle magazine. Apparently the Search & Rescue team of the RAF based at El Adem, called the Desert Rescue Team, relocated two LRDG patrol cars at Jebel Sherif in 1967, wrecked during the ambush when Pat Clayton was captured. They also saw the wrecks of the two Italian bombers destroyed by the LRDG at Uweinat. It is unlikely that anything remains to be seen of the aircraft today (the Kufra - Sudan track runs right beside, so they were probably scavenged for scrap metal), however the site of the two trucks is more remote, just possibly they could still be there (a detour will be considered for the October 2003 expedition). More, including photos on the historic expeditions page.
2nd September, 2002
The books and articles in the Bibliography section have been updated. The articles listing has been expanded with all articles related to the Libyan Desert published in the Sahara journal.
28th August, 2002
The pages in the archaeology section have been completed, including a new page on a curious stone implement found at Wadi Sora in 1998.
6th August, 2002
Ignacio Recalde presented a very logical and seemingly plausible explanation for the purpose of the brass container found near Wadi Sora along the track of the Kufra convoys. Any comments or alternate suggestions welcome !
4th August, 2002
Completed the Karkur Talh rock art sites section, and added the smaller rock art sites in the Wadi Sora area. The Maps and Links sections are also complete.
26th July, 2002
Received more information from Stuart Disbrey on the meaning of the lettering "SRD" stamped on the LRDG Rum Jar. Also completed the list of books in the Bibliography section, with many new additions.
19th July, 2002
Announcing the expeditions programme for 2003:
19th July, 2002
The long overdue redesign is finally complete ! As of today the new FJ Expeditions website is online at our own domain. Many thanks to Claire Spottiswoode (who was with us on the 2002 March trip) for designing the layout of the new site.
There have been a number of major expansions to the site, and many new photos have been added: